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How can we fix Northbourne Avenue?

By Leon Arundell 21 April 2017 37

Northbourne Avenue

Northbourne Ave

Canberra’s central business district is divided by a fifty-metre wide roadway that is set to become even more dangerous, and even more dysfunctional.

Northbourne Avenue’s six general traffic lanes, two shared paths and two cycle lanes will soon be joined by two light rail tracks. Fifteen thousand light rail passengers will use the Alinga Street terminus each day. Passengers travelling to or from north of the terminus will have to negotiate Canberra’s most dangerous place for pedestrians – the intersection of Northbourne Avenue with Bunda and Rudd Streets.

Pedestrian crossings currently connect only to the east and west. But light rail passengers will want to travel in all directions, especially south-east to the bus interchange. Better pedestrian crossings could improve safety, allow quicker bus-tram connections, and help the Government to increase the public transport share of all work trips to 16% by 2026.

Northbourne Avenue is dangerous for pedestrians. It’s the only part of a major shopping area in the ACT where pedestrians face vehicles travelling legally at 60 km/h. Two pedestrians have been killed on Northbourne Avenue since 2006. The Territory’s three most dangerous locations for pedestrian injuries are the intersections of Northbourne Avenue with Bunda and Rudd Streets, with Macarthur and Wakefield Avenues, and with London Circuit. It might be even worse, but for traffic signal improvements that reduced the number of risky crossings.

Northbourne Avenue is dangerous for cyclists. Its intersection with Morphett Street in Dickson is the ACT’s worst location for cyclist injuries. Six of the seven most dangerous locations are along Northbourne Avenue.

Northbourne Avenue is also dangerous for motor vehicles. It averages a crash every two days, and an injury a month. The intersection of Northbourne Avenue with Barry Drive and Cooyong Street had 61 crashes and four injuries during 2013 and 2014.

Walter and Marion Griffin designed Northbourne Avenue for a city that would not need traffic signals because only a few of its 30,000 inhabitants would own cars. They would have designed Northbourne Avenue very differently if they had anticipated that Canberra would have 240,000 passenger vehicles and 300 signalised intersections. Its wide medians mean that most pedestrians crossing to the diagonally opposite corner of a Northbourne Avenue intersection have to wait at a red signal before commencing to cross the side road, wait at another red signal before starting to cross Northbourne Avenue, and then wait at a third red signal before completing their crossing. At the intersections with London Circuit, with Alinga Street, and with Rudd and Bunda Streets, vehicles turning right have to wait at up to two red signals.

Northbourne Avenue’s wide medians mean six less seconds of traffic signal green time, per cycle, than at normal intersections. Reduced green time has a disproportionate effect on peak period congestion delays.

Northbourne Avenue’s intersection with Rudd and Bunda Streets is the epicentre of Canberra’s morning congestion. Traffic banks up from there until it blocks the intersection with Barry Drive and Cooyong Street. This causes a kilometre-long cascade of congestion, that partly blocks every intersection back to Ipima Street.

The parkland along the centre of Northbourne Avenue has twice the total area of Glebe Park. But few people use it because it’s all within fifteen metres of the noise, fumes and danger of three lanes of 60 km/h traffic.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said that he intended to create environments that are child- and age-friendly and support cycling and walking, and noted that community and stakeholders emphasised the need to adopt a placemaking approach that focuses on pedestrians first, cyclists second, public transport third than private vehicles.

How can we apply those principles to make Northbourne Avenue a safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable space?

Leon Arundell is Chair of Living Streets Canberra.

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37 Responses to
How can we fix Northbourne Avenue?
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dtc 12:54 pm 02 May 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

In terms of cost, why wouldn’t it be feasible to go underground? The Snowy 2 project involves a 27km tunnel and power station, for a mere $2 billion. The tram is already near that, so maybe underground isn’t such a bad idea.

It may well be feasible, although I imagine that building a tunnel through a city is more complex than through undeveloped grassland/forest. And there is the issue of whether its worth spending a lot of money to speed up people’s commutes twice a day, given that in between rush hours the traffic isnt terrible

In terms of pedestrian safety, there is the option of overpasses – they arent very common in Australia but in some cities (HK is a prime example) they are very common. Of course, in HK many of the overpasses go from multi story shopping mall to another similar shopping mall; people arent always too keen on walking up and down stairs just to cross the road.

rommeldog56 11:09 pm 01 May 17

AngryIan said :

They should have made the tram aerial. That way no lights to stop at and when they want a stop they can drop down to a 3m high platform. Trams then go at 90kph o faster between long distance stops. It would make my travel time to civic <15 minutes and if this is the case I would leave the bike and car at home.

Please dont start that discussion on here again ! An ariel type tram, or gondola type ariel solution was raised by a past contributor on here a while back. He was basically shouted down by apologists for the ACT Labor/Greens Govt and pro tramers, so no longer posts here I believe. Instead of something like that “visionary” solution, the ACT Labor/Greens Govt did not properly nor fully consider all alternative & emerging public transport solutions but instead instead went with a surface based tram.

wildturkeycanoe 8:30 am 01 May 17

dtc said :

So does anyone actually have a suggestion as to how to improve Northbourne Ave? The only one I saw was to build a tunnel, which would solve the problem but might not be feasible.

In terms of cost, why wouldn’t it be feasible to go underground? The Snowy 2 project involves a 27km tunnel and power station, for a mere $2 billion. The tram is already near that, so maybe underground isn’t such a bad idea.

dungfungus 11:47 pm 30 Apr 17

AngryIan said :

dungfungus said :

MenaP said :

With roundabouts instead of traffic lights!

Actually, I am advised that when the trams start trundling down Moonscape Avenue with their right of way, no right turns from the motor vehicle lanes (across the tramway) will be allowed.

This is sure to help ease congestion.

They should have made the tram aerial. That way no lights to stop at and when they want a stop they can drop down to a 3m high platform. Trams then go at 90kph o faster between long distance stops. It would make my travel time to civic <15 minutes and if this is the case I would leave the bike and car at home.

That sounds like a “pop-up tram”.

It wouldn’t want to go too high or it might collide with the Sky Whale.

oh_ 8:45 pm 30 Apr 17

Here’s how we can make Northbourne flow better – 1) streamlining the number of intersections and which way they allow turns, eg at Braddon you have Girrawheen, Elouera and Cooyong Sts all one block apart allowing turns in every direction – Elouera could be a “left only” intersection (make Girawheen 2 lanes each way to accommodate). Rudd/Bunda St could also be left only, the other adjacent roads provide options to turn right 2) separating the bike lane from traffic/buses, the median would have been perfect but with tram probably cant accommodate now 3) bridging or tunneling the bike crossing at Dickson near Morphett St (one less light). 4) More “turn left at any time with care” slip lanes at intersections to move traffic through.

dtc 6:55 pm 30 Apr 17

So does anyone actually have a suggestion as to how to improve Northbourne Ave? The only one I saw was to build a tunnel, which would solve the problem but might not be feasible.

What about some under and over passes, like at Kings Ave Bridge?

And some alternative routes to cross the lake. Another bridge seems unlikely and I dont know if there is a viable option, but what about improving Limestone Ave and sending more people down that way instead of through Civic?

ChrisinTurner 6:50 pm 30 Apr 17

The government’s EIS for the Tram said congestion will increase on Northbourne Ave as a result of signal priority changes. Turning Northbourne into a parking lot should make it much safer for pedestrians and bicycles.

AngryIan 6:18 pm 30 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

MenaP said :

With roundabouts instead of traffic lights!

Actually, I am advised that when the trams start trundling down Moonscape Avenue with their right of way, no right turns from the motor vehicle lanes (across the tramway) will be allowed.

This is sure to help ease congestion.

They should have made the tram aerial. That way no lights to stop at and when they want a stop they can drop down to a 3m high platform. Trams then go at 90kph o faster between long distance stops. It would make my travel time to civic <15 minutes and if this is the case I would leave the bike and car at home.

switch 9:28 am 30 Apr 17

I fear the light rails will be with us for a long time to come, Dungers, with or without the trams.

dungfungus 9:23 pm 29 Apr 17

JC said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

MERC600 said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

Ps the trees and grass will grow back. Just like last time the trees were replaced 20 odd years goo.

I have lived in Canberra for the past 40 years and I don’t recall the trees along the Northbourne Avenue median strip being replaced at any time as they are planned to be now.

Perhaps you could provide a link to prove this, please.

And yes, the grass will grow back, between the acres of concrete and under the wires.

Sorry Dungers. I used to steam along Northbourne Avenue every working day in the 80’s and can remember the trees being replaced.
Found this in a ACT Planning site ”
Second replacement plantings of river peppermints 1987
By 1981, the red gums were suffering from the combined effects of drought and gas pipe laying.27

They were replaced by quick growing river peppermint (Eucalyptus elata) during 1987 under the direction of Pryor’s successor John Gray.28

They have always been replaced progressively but it wasn’t the complete removal and delayed replacement we are looking at now as was my statement “as they are planned to be now”.

Well der they are being replaced now for good reason. Yeah know you don’t like that reason, but the whinging of people over these ‘pristine’ trees is well ott.

It’s been clearly demonstrated and stated that they are not as old as many make out and they willl be replaced with more than what has been removed

In other words it’s temporary.

At no time were those trees clear felled like they have been now. I did refer to Moonscape Avenue.

That is the point.

And I don’t think eucalyptus were ever the right choice. Majestic Grevillea Robustas would have been perfect, especially the unique symetrical vista they could have presented when they are in bloom.

Yeah the 6 lane road does create a moonscape environment doesn’t it? But that’s ok yeah? Road. Never mind the light rail construction is just temporary.

Just as the light rail novelty will be temporary.

JC 3:46 pm 29 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

MERC600 said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

Ps the trees and grass will grow back. Just like last time the trees were replaced 20 odd years goo.

I have lived in Canberra for the past 40 years and I don’t recall the trees along the Northbourne Avenue median strip being replaced at any time as they are planned to be now.

Perhaps you could provide a link to prove this, please.

And yes, the grass will grow back, between the acres of concrete and under the wires.

Sorry Dungers. I used to steam along Northbourne Avenue every working day in the 80’s and can remember the trees being replaced.
Found this in a ACT Planning site ”
Second replacement plantings of river peppermints 1987
By 1981, the red gums were suffering from the combined effects of drought and gas pipe laying.27

They were replaced by quick growing river peppermint (Eucalyptus elata) during 1987 under the direction of Pryor’s successor John Gray.28

They have always been replaced progressively but it wasn’t the complete removal and delayed replacement we are looking at now as was my statement “as they are planned to be now”.

Well der they are being replaced now for good reason. Yeah know you don’t like that reason, but the whinging of people over these ‘pristine’ trees is well ott.

It’s been clearly demonstrated and stated that they are not as old as many make out and they willl be replaced with more than what has been removed

In other words it’s temporary.

At no time were those trees clear felled like they have been now. I did refer to Moonscape Avenue.

That is the point.

And I don’t think eucalyptus were ever the right choice. Majestic Grevillea Robustas would have been perfect, especially the unique symetrical vista they could have presented when they are in bloom.

Yeah the 6 lane road does create a moonscape environment doesn’t it? But that’s ok yeah? Road. Never mind the light rail construction is just temporary.

dungfungus 1:54 pm 28 Apr 17

JC said :

dungfungus said :

MERC600 said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

Ps the trees and grass will grow back. Just like last time the trees were replaced 20 odd years goo.

I have lived in Canberra for the past 40 years and I don’t recall the trees along the Northbourne Avenue median strip being replaced at any time as they are planned to be now.

Perhaps you could provide a link to prove this, please.

And yes, the grass will grow back, between the acres of concrete and under the wires.

Sorry Dungers. I used to steam along Northbourne Avenue every working day in the 80’s and can remember the trees being replaced.
Found this in a ACT Planning site ”
Second replacement plantings of river peppermints 1987
By 1981, the red gums were suffering from the combined effects of drought and gas pipe laying.27

They were replaced by quick growing river peppermint (Eucalyptus elata) during 1987 under the direction of Pryor’s successor John Gray.28

They have always been replaced progressively but it wasn’t the complete removal and delayed replacement we are looking at now as was my statement “as they are planned to be now”.

Well der they are being replaced now for good reason. Yeah know you don’t like that reason, but the whinging of people over these ‘pristine’ trees is well ott.

It’s been clearly demonstrated and stated that they are not as old as many make out and they willl be replaced with more than what has been removed

In other words it’s temporary.

At no time were those trees clear felled like they have been now. I did refer to Moonscape Avenue.

That is the point.

And I don’t think eucalyptus were ever the right choice. Majestic Grevillea Robustas would have been perfect, especially the unique symetrical vista they could have presented when they are in bloom.

JC 4:03 am 28 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

MERC600 said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

Ps the trees and grass will grow back. Just like last time the trees were replaced 20 odd years goo.

I have lived in Canberra for the past 40 years and I don’t recall the trees along the Northbourne Avenue median strip being replaced at any time as they are planned to be now.

Perhaps you could provide a link to prove this, please.

And yes, the grass will grow back, between the acres of concrete and under the wires.

Sorry Dungers. I used to steam along Northbourne Avenue every working day in the 80’s and can remember the trees being replaced.
Found this in a ACT Planning site ”
Second replacement plantings of river peppermints 1987
By 1981, the red gums were suffering from the combined effects of drought and gas pipe laying.27

They were replaced by quick growing river peppermint (Eucalyptus elata) during 1987 under the direction of Pryor’s successor John Gray.28

They have always been replaced progressively but it wasn’t the complete removal and delayed replacement we are looking at now as was my statement “as they are planned to be now”.

Well der they are being replaced now for good reason. Yeah know you don’t like that reason, but the whinging of people over these ‘pristine’ trees is well ott.

It’s been clearly demonstrated and stated that they are not as old as many make out and they willl be replaced with more than what has been removed

In other words it’s temporary.

wildturkeycanoe 9:26 pm 27 Apr 17

ffisher said :

It is unsafe and too fast.

You consider 50km/h maximum in stop start traffic too fast???
What is unsafe about Northbourne Avenue apart from the narrowness of the lanes ever since they squeezed the cyclists onto the road as well?

ffisher said :

improved nothing and in the end it will end up a loss making venture because all the Federal public servants who might have used it are about to be moved to the regions! LOL.

This I agree with totally. Where exactly are all the new residents who are buying apartments along the tram corridor going to get their money from? The public service has been taken over by Coles [Down down!] and their jobs are being stolen by the Nationals Party to be sold off on Ebay to the highest rural bidder. There are consistently declining numbers of staff in our services such as Centerlink, Medicare and A.C.T government shopfronts [Who have even taken away nearly all the seats in the shopfront]. So where are the jobs that are going to prop up the economy and get the tram up and running?
Lately, nothing makes sense in Canberra.

JC 8:59 pm 27 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

Ps the trees and grass will grow back. Just like last time the trees were replaced 20 odd years goo.

I have lived in Canberra for the past 40 years and I don’t recall the trees along the Northbourne Avenue median strip being replaced at any time as they are planned to be now.

Perhaps you could provide a link to prove this, please.

And yes, the grass will grow back, between the acres of concrete and under the wires.

So when do you reckon those trees were planted then?

Here’s a link to an image of trees in Northbourne Avenue in 2009

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=northbourne+avenue,+canberra&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiew5iZisPTAhUFoZQKHdrLCFMQ_AUICygC&biw=1536&bih=702#tbm=isch&q=northbourne+avenue+in+the+1970's,+canberra&imgrc=cYX_sR-ijxYfgM:

They look about 20 years old so, 20 + 18 = 38 years.

Where’s your link?

That’s actually 28 years not 38 as I said 20 odd.

Anyway merc600 has same memory as me, in my case it was early 90’s when I was working at a Braddon servo.

The key difference is the trees before we’re not replaced wholesale rather gradually over a number of years. And of course it wasn’t a building site.

dungfungus 6:32 pm 27 Apr 17

MERC600 said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

Ps the trees and grass will grow back. Just like last time the trees were replaced 20 odd years goo.

I have lived in Canberra for the past 40 years and I don’t recall the trees along the Northbourne Avenue median strip being replaced at any time as they are planned to be now.

Perhaps you could provide a link to prove this, please.

And yes, the grass will grow back, between the acres of concrete and under the wires.

Sorry Dungers. I used to steam along Northbourne Avenue every working day in the 80’s and can remember the trees being replaced.
Found this in a ACT Planning site ”
Second replacement plantings of river peppermints 1987
By 1981, the red gums were suffering from the combined effects of drought and gas pipe laying.27

They were replaced by quick growing river peppermint (Eucalyptus elata) during 1987 under the direction of Pryor’s successor John Gray.28

They have always been replaced progressively but it wasn’t the complete removal and delayed replacement we are looking at now as was my statement “as they are planned to be now”.

MERC600 4:41 pm 27 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

JC said :

Ps the trees and grass will grow back. Just like last time the trees were replaced 20 odd years goo.

I have lived in Canberra for the past 40 years and I don’t recall the trees along the Northbourne Avenue median strip being replaced at any time as they are planned to be now.

Perhaps you could provide a link to prove this, please.

And yes, the grass will grow back, between the acres of concrete and under the wires.

Sorry Dungers. I used to steam along Northbourne Avenue every working day in the 80’s and can remember the trees being replaced.
Found this in a ACT Planning site ”
Second replacement plantings of river peppermints 1987
By 1981, the red gums were suffering from the combined effects of drought and gas pipe laying.27

They were replaced by quick growing river peppermint (Eucalyptus elata) during 1987 under the direction of Pryor’s successor John Gray.28

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